Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cleared for takeoff: New Mexico State University flight program broadens travel options

Richard Clayton, pilot and director of University Flight Operations at New Mexico State University, sits in the cockpit of a six-passenger King Air E90 airplane at the Las Cruces International Airport. Clayton said the aircraft is used by university officials throughout the school year and September is a busy month for flights. (Shari V. Hill/Sun-News)

LAS CRUCES — The one-man department behind the wings of NMSU's Flight Operations program described the flight service as an "excellent efficiency tool" that saves time and money on university-related business trips. 

Richard Clayton, 59, NMSU's flight operations director and pilot of the university's King Air E-90, has more than 20,000 hours in the air, flying planes for 33 years.

Currently, Clayton can be found in the cockpit of the twin turbine aircraft, taking NMSU officials to conduct business across the state.

"The service is absolutely a time-saver, especially if you have to travel to Santa Fe or Carlsbad with a group of administrators for a one- to two-hour meeting," said Ricardo Jacquez, NMSU dean of the College of Engineering. "With driving time, you've committed an entire day. If you fly for an afternoon meeting, you can be back by 5 p.m., but still have your morning to take care of business at the office."

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